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A new RUSI project, ‘Furthering Global Britain?’ Reviewing the Foreign Policy Effect of UK Engagement in Eastern Africa’, examines how the UK has deployed its development, defence and diplomacy toolkit in Eastern Africa in support of a Global Britain agenda.
In the wake of Brexit, in March 2021 the Conservative government published a wide-reaching review of foreign policy, security and defence issues, Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (the Integrated Review). The Review, together with a number of subordinate strategies, elaborated the UK government’s vision for a ‘Global Britain’. Headline themes include taking a more integrated approach to foreign policy, defence and development, tilting towards the Indo-Pacific region, and playing a proactive role in global affairs in partnership with others.
Africa was referenced by the Integrated Review in terms of partnership and shared goals of prosperity, democracy and security. International development and overseas aid received limited focus in the document, which had a stronger emphasis on trade, economic resilience and the alignment of international development with wider foreign policy. Eastern Africa was highlighted as a region for increased UK engagement with specific references made to Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
Against this backdrop, a RUSI research team has launched a new project, ‘Furthering Global Britain?’ Reviewing the Foreign Policy Effect of UK Engagement in Eastern Africa’, to examine how the UK has deployed its development, defence and diplomacy toolkit in Eastern Africa in support of a Global Britain agenda. The project will look at how the UK has sought both to bring about positive change in the countries in which it is working and to secure secondary (largely geopolitical) benefits in the national interest. Specifically, the research examines how recent political and bureaucratic changes – Brexit, aid cuts and the creation of a merged Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – have affected the UK’s ability to deliver on its objectives.
This paper summarises initial findings.
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